Joint Press Release | October 14, 2021

Manila, Philippines — “Cancer remains a national health priority of our government as it has profound socio-economic challenges and impact on individuals, families, communities, the entire healthcare system, and the economic gains of the country,” said Department of Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III at the recently concluded 1st DOH-WHO Cancer Control Stakeholders Summit with Special Focus on Childhood Cancer.

Held on 28-30 September 2021 and in partnership with World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines, the Summit was a virtual gathering of the Philippines’ advocates of cancer control, as well as leaders in public health, the academe, the legislators and various patient support groups. The summit was also a celebration of the second anniversary of the enactment of Republic Act No. 11215 or the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA).

Two years since the enactment of NICCA, cancer control in the country is gaining momentum on different fronts.

The Philippine Senate Committee on Health and Demography, chaired by Senator Hon. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, promised an additional budget of Php500 million for the National Integrated Cancer Control Program in 2022.

Representative Hon. Angelina “Helen” Tan also expressed her support for cancer prevention through House Bill No. 8558 that will expand mandatory immunization. “In addition to the policies, programs, systems, and interventions that need to be institutionalized and operationalized, the power to fight cancer comes from the heart and from the soul. It comes from a spirit that is capable of compassion, sacrifice, and endurance,” said Representative Tan.

The International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is commemorated every September, and the Philippines is one of the active participants in the implementation of the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer. The Global Initiative’s goal is to achieve at least a 60% survival rate and to reduce the suffering of all children with cancer by 2030.

Dr Andre Ilbawi, WHO Technical Lead for Cancer Control, highlighted the importance of building capacity to achieve cancer care for all under Universal Health Care (UHC). “We know that having access to Universal Health Care can reduce deaths from cancer. Leaders and advocates should realize that cancer is part of the development agenda and is part of the human rights agenda.”

At the Summit, advocates of childhood cancer emphasized the important role of local government leaders in investing in childhood cancer control.

The investments in resources must go hand in hand with investments in human resources for health. Health advocates at the summit urged for capacity building programs on UHC to also include health leadership and governance for local officials relating to cancer control.

“The Philippines is one of the first focus countries for the WHO Global Initiative on Childhood Cancer. Indeed, it is currently one of three countries in the WHO Western Pacific Region identified for this support,” said Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative to the Philippines. “This active participation in the Global Initiative, alongside the clear and robust framework stipulated in the NICCA, will help the Philippines in the right direction to addressing the unmet needs and gaps in childhood cancer care.”